Do Anywhere Body Weight Circuit

Strength training, like running, should start with the basics. Building muscular strength and endurance can enhance running performance and injury resistance.  However, jumping into an intense strength training program without proper preparation is a recipe for injury and frustration.   

Before adding heavy weights, start with body weight exercises that emphasize core strength and isolate key running movements.  By using our body’s natural levers rather than the levers of machines we develop balance and strength in injury prone areas. And for most of us, our body weight provides more than enough resistance to build a strong foundation.  

Here are some exercises that I do regularly because they target key areas and don’t require much additional time or equipment.  The entire routine only takes a few minutes and can be done at home, at the gym, or at your local park. 

Push – Ups (2 sets x Max) 

Front Planks (2 sets x 30 to 60 seconds)

Hill Climbers (2 sets x 30 to 60 seconds) 

Pelvic/Hip Thrusts (2 sets x 15 or Max) 

Bicycle Crunches (2 sets x 50) 

Pull Ups (2 sets x Max) 

Inverted Lunges (2 sets x 10 per leg. Add more each week) 

Step Ups (2 sets x 10 per leg. Add a few more each week) 

Running Arms (2 sets x 30 – 60 seconds

Box Squats (2x15)

Each of these exercises works essential running muscles and will provide a base for more intense efforts later in the training plan.  Variations of many of the exercises such as side planks, plank rotations, and lunge matrices can add additional stimulus, but focus on these basic movements for now and you’ll have plenty of time to add more to your routine as you progress through it.  

Remember – it’s all about the base!   


Jacob Puzey is an IAAF, USATF, & McMillan Running certified running coach.  Jacob coaches athletes of all ages & abilities from all over the world to help them achieve thier goals.  To learn more about the coaching services he provides visit www.5peaks.com/coaching.

Summer Running Strategies

Summer is my favorite time of year.  The days are longer.  The sun shines brighter.  Temps are usually higher. However, even with all of the advantages summer brings, in order to get the most out of each day one must plan and prepare for success.  Here are a few strategies for making the most of your summer:

Get up before the sun to get things done

Early mornings are usually the coolest time of day.  Get up early before the mercury rises and the rest of your responsibilities begin. Use the time on the run to gather your thoughts and prepare for success each day.

"There's a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it -- you can put yourself in the way of beauty."  - Cheryl Strayed, Wild                            Photo: Anna Lee Landin

"There's a sunrise and a sunset every day, and you can choose to be there for it -- you can put yourself in the way of beauty."

 - Cheryl Strayed, Wild                            Photo: Anna Lee Landin

Waiting until after work when it is hotter often leaves one drained, hungry, and unmotivated to run.  If your run is scheduled in the evening and something comes up it is often the first thing to go, whereas if you make it a regular part of your morning routine you don't even have to think about the countless potential conflicts that could jeopardize your run throughout the course of the day.  

Drink a liter of water when you wake up


Jumpstart your metabolism and take the first step toward adequate hydration by drinking a liter of water when you first wake up.  This is a lot of water to consume all at once, but after a good night's sleep without hydrating this is a quick and easy way to get hydrated and ready to run.   

Many water bottles come in standard one liter or one quart sizes.  Use one to measure the amount you consume to ensure that you consume the right amount. If you drink a liter of water you should be fine for the first hour of the run without the need for additional water.  If you plan to run longer than an hour and you won't be passing any water along the route, bring a handheld water bottle or hydration pack with you. 

Eat a Big Breakfast


After jump starting your metabolism and hydration with a morning run and a liter of water, continue to keep your resting metabolic rate up by eating a large, nutrient dense breakfast. This will reduce your appetite and help you consume fewer total calories throughout the day.

Eat fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the day

Summer is harvest time for so many seasonal fruits and vegetables that it is actually possible to eat fresh, local fruits and veggies all day every day without getting tired of them.

Fruits and vegetables make great snacks and enhance any entree. Photo by Anna Lee Landin

Fruits and vegetables make great snacks and enhance any entree. Photo by Anna Lee Landin

Blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, tomatoes, zucchini, peaches, cherries, strawberries, plums, grapes, apples, spinach, chard, kale, radishes, corn, carrots, peppers, cucumbers, and mint (I know it's not a fruit but it sure tastes good on fresh watermelon) are all in season during the summer and taste great in their natural state and can make delicious smoothies or dried fruit snacks.

Mouthwatering watermelon salad with fresh mint and feta. Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Mouthwatering watermelon salad with fresh mint and feta. Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Not only do these fruits and veggies pack a ton of essential vitamins and nutrients, they are also full of juice to keep you hydrated and healthy through the long days of summer.

Fresh blueberries are great on their own, in cereal, salad, or a smoothie. Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Fresh blueberries are great on their own, in cereal, salad, or a smoothie. Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Many of these products can be grown in home gardens or purchased at local farmer's markets.

Carrots straight from the garden.  Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Carrots straight from the garden.  Photo by Ashley Bennett Belka of Bennett Belka Photography

Run or bike commute

Many people spend hours each day sitting in traffic.  Rather than wasting that time, find ways to commute from place to place on foot or on a bike.  You may find that it takes just as long and you can often move faster than cars in heavy traffic.  This will also free up your schedule before and after work because you can get in much of your training volume on your way to and from work.  

Do a second workout inside or in water

If you have the time, ability, and/or desire to add additional training to your schedule you should plan to do some of it inside or in water.  Take advantage of the air conditioning in homes, offices, and gyms to run on a treadmill or the healing and refreshing power of water by doing your second workout in the water. This is another way to keep your resting metabolic rate high while keeping you cool. 

Go to bed early

Most people do the bulk of their unhealthy eating after dark, after dinner, right before bed. This usually causes us to go to bed even later as the food settles.  This leaves junk food in our guts without giving it time to digest, meaning it will probably hit us on our run in the morning.  

However, all of this can be avoided - the binge eating and the late nights - if we simply eat dinner at a regular time (before 7:00 pm) and then use the next couple of hours to let it digest and unwind from the day.  

When we wait to run until after work we often eat dinner much later and then need to take additional time to cool off from the workout.  This keeps us up later - often causing us to eat even more to pass the time - and keeps us away from family, friends, and opportunities to relax at the end of the day.

Summary

Get up before the sun to get things done.  Drink a liter of water when you first wake up. Eat a big breakfast.  East fresh fruits and veggies throughout the day.  Run or bike commute. Do a second workout inside or in water.  Go to bed early.  Implement these simple strategies in your daily routine and you'll find that summer is a great time to train and make gains in your fitness and overall wellbeing.  

Jacob Puzey is a professional runner and IAAF, USATF, and McMillan Running certified international running coach.  Jacob loves running all surfaces and all distances and recently won the Canadian National 50K Road Championships in record time. Jacob coaches athletes of all ages and abilities from all over the world and helps them live life without limits.  To learn more about Jacob and the coaching services he provides please visit www.5peaks.com/coaching.

Jacob Puzey is a professional runner and IAAF, USATF, and McMillan Running certified international running coach.  Jacob loves running all surfaces and all distances and recently won the Canadian National 50K Road Championships in record time. Jacob coaches athletes of all ages and abilities from all over the world and helps them live life without limits.  To learn more about Jacob and the coaching services he provides please visit www.5peaks.com/coaching.

Our Race Directors Rock!

We are so fortunate to have such incredible race directors at 5 Peaks.  Each of them with incredibly unique personalities and strengths.

Our Ontario race director, Erin, is known across the land for her witty and hilarious pre race emails.  If you have a moment, take a read.  

Hello Terra Cotta Warriors!

It has been a long winter without any 5 Peaks races to brag about at the office water cooler, but the season is heating up (figuratively, but unfortunately not literally – just that one half week we all got wildly optimistic that summer was arriving early this year and then we plummeted back into parka temperatures) and the wait is over! Monday you can proudly show your boss your physical and emotional trail running scars.

If you get 5 Peaks withdrawal in the off-season or between races, don’t forget we are always active on Facebook (5 Peaks Trail Running), Instagram (@5Peaksrun) and twitter (@5Peaksrun), and we have a pretty hoppin’ 5 Peaks Ontario Facebook group (5 Peaks Trail racing – Southern Ontario). Our Ontario group is a great way to stay current on all the exciting stuff happening at our races and in between events. #getofftheroad #5peaks

Now that the Barkely Marathon secret is out and everyone has watched the documentary I feel that some of you are expecting this bulletin be one of condolence over the unspeakable suffering in store for you. No condolences here, just awe that you are ready to show the humbling Terra Cotta course who’s the boss. 5 Peaks Ontario kicks off on Saturday and we couldn’t be more stoked.

The 5.4K loop (Sport runners run the loop once for 5.4K, Enduro runners run two loops for 10.8K) doesn’t look intimidating on the map. With a nice squarishly-round-hexagonal shape you might be fooled into thinking this is one of our easier courses. Easier to navigate maybe, easier to run, well I wouldn’t take that bet. If you are worried about getting lost, always follow the yellow and orange flags and 5 Peaks course signs. Do not mindlessly follow the runner in front of you because those runners can’t be trusted to know where they are going. Do not follow your heart. Your ticker might want to go left when the sign says right. Do not follow cute wildlife – it’s a trap. Do not be fooled by any signs claiming to be a “shortcut” – also a trap. Follow the flags. Locals may tell you the conservation area is named after the red tinged clay soil in the region, but Race Directors will tell you the red tinge is the blood-soaked footprints of runners past. When you conquer this course you should be proud. Tired and scarred, but also proud.

You may have noticed it rained this week. And tornadoed. Rained again. Hailed. Rained some more. Then there was the wind. Followed by more rain. Thunder and lightning. Oh, and rain. On the trail, with rain comes mud. Glorious, sticky, mucky mud. You will get dirty tomorrow. Really dirty. Splendidly dirty. Think of the dirtiest you've ever been, including childhood days making mudpies with your BFFs, and know that you will be muddier than that. So do not wear your new white tennis shoes. Do not wear your sleek racing flats. Do not wear your 17 year old sneakers with no tread left. Wear shoes with grip and expect that they will need a bath after you cross the finish line.

When you see mud on the trail you must delicately run straight through the mud. You must NOT go off trail to avoid the mud. You must NOT push alongside the very edges of the trail to avoid the mud. You must NOT intentionally displace the mud by creating artistic formations. You must NOT create an entirely new trail to avoid the mud. We are running through sensitive terrain and we absolutely cannot damage or widen the trail by running on the sides or trample endangered ecosystems just to avoid some dirt. Earth Day is every day. You are trail runners – getting dirty is one of the best parts of the sport, second only to getting bloody. If you do any of any of the things you are not to do you will be disqualified. STAY ON THE TRAIL AT ALL TIMES. Plus, and this is completely true, you are likely to stay cleaner by running straight through the mud than by trying to traipse off course. Almost all attempts at avoiding mud end with the same thought, as you find yourself trapped in an even deeper sinkhole or fallen on your butt, “I’ve made a huge mistake”. You read this and think, no problem, I get it, stay on the trail, not a problem, enough already… but when you are racing you will be overwhelmingly tempted to avoid the mud at all costs. You’ll think, I’ll just run off to the side, I’m just one person, it won’t matter and no one will ever know. Someone else did it, I’ll just follow their footprints. You must fight this compulsion. The impact of one person matters. And we will know. We have eyes in the trees. We see everything.

This course likes to lull you into a false sense of security before: BOOM! a giant hill; or BOOM! technical single track; or BOOM! a bear. That last one may be a hallucination. It’s hard to tell sometimes. For the first timers you get a sample of everything trail running has to offer and for the veterans this is a great route to test out your winter weary legs. Terra Cotta offers you broad double track straightaways, twisty single track, gut-busting uphills we call “mounds of opportunity” and speedy downhills we call “quad busters.” When you feel like you can’t possibly run another step, you’ve hit the 1/4 mark. When you start to ask people for forgiveness of all the wrongs in your life you’ve hit the ½ way point. When you start to hate the mud, the race director, the person in front of you who makes it look so easy, and yourself for signing up for this race you are 3/4 done. And when you are too delirious from fatigue to do math and you’ve forgotten how long this darn race is anyway, the end is near. When the going gets really tough remind yourself, at least they aren’t electrocuting me or forcing me to swim through manure or throwing paint in my face. If you don’t have the answers to your life problems after this inspiring run, you probably aren’t getting any answers.

And we don’t go any easier on the kids. The 3km route is an “out and back” along the last 1.5km of the Sport/Enduro route. So they run the course in reverse out 1.5km to just before the 4km mark and they turn around and run back in 1.5km. Yup, that means they are running the same challenging terrain, the same hills, and the same rad double track as you. Impressed? You are allowed to run with your kids – it’s a great warmup and nice way to preview the end of the Sport/Enduro course. The childrens’ free 1km is a nice flat romp around the marshes and the grassy plains. Parents, please feel welcome and encouraged to run the 1km with your little ones. Registration for the 1km fun run takes place race morning.

It is hard to appreciate as you gasp for breath and try not to fall on your own face, but do take a moment to enjoy your surroundings as you pass old conifer plantations, valley edges, mature forest and human-restored eco-systems. This is classic Ontario flora and fauna, so break out the maple syrup and enjoy. Just don’t get too wrapped up in the majesty of nature that you daydream yourself into a swamp. Constant vigilance is the trail mantra. The winter was hard on the trails and fallen leaves and branches cover much of the terrain, so be careful with your footing. Bridges and other wooden features can be especially tricky in wet conditions, so proceed with caution unless you want to work on your gymnastics moves. There is no shame in walking.

After much hard running and panting you will need some water and electrolytes. We have one Aid Station at about 2.5k into the loop and a second Aid Station at the start loop 2 for the Enduro runners. Xact Nutrition will be supplying fuel at Aid Station 1 and both stations will have water and Nuun. This year we are continuing to GREEN our events to celebrate and protect the beautiful natural spaces in which we run. Although we will provide small footprint cups at the aid stations, we will NOT be providing cups in the start/finish area. In the spirit of greening we also recommend you bring your own reusable bottles for use on course, especially if a quick sip isn’t enough to satiate your thirst. There is a water bottle table in the start/finish area, with a helpful sign saying “water”, so you race like an elite athlete and leave your bottle on the table, with easy access to your personal blend after you cross the finish line. There is no tap on site, so PRE-FILL all your water bottles at home. Cups are a huge source of waste at running events and eventually we will phase out aid station cups entirely – which would be a huge achievement!

Check out the start times so we can, well, start on time. I know you are sleepy and confused on race morning, especially when it is still dark as your alarm annoyingly goes beep-beep-beep, but starting in the right race will ensure you don’t suffer a humiliating defeat in the 1K at the hands of a 6 year old. This and other logistical details are on-line at www.5peaks.com, so when it doubt that’s a great resource. As this is early in the season and the mornings are still dark and cold, start times are 30 MINUTES LATER than usual. That gives you some extra time to stop for a warm beverage on your way in. In a reusable mug, of course.

– 8:30 AM: Registration / Packet Pickup opens for all events at the covered pavilion
– 9:30 AM: Kids’ 3K Timed Race
– 10:00 AM: Children's 1K Challenge
– 10:30 AM: Sport and Enduro Races, Wave 1 (each wave follows in 2 min intervals)*
– 12:45 PM: Awards Ceremony for ALL races

Note: Registration for each event closes 30 minutes before the start time!

This race is sold out and we will need every single parking space - so please carpool and park like a good running citizen, i.e. don't waste parking space, listen to the attendants and tuck in close to your neighbour so we can maximize the number of cars in the lot. Travelling in groups will also speed up arrival and departure, so get together with friends and make a road trip out of it.

*There will be 5 waves of runners. Overall winners are determined by *gun* time, so if you have a shot at TOP THREE OVERLL start in wave one. All Age Group awards are determined by *chip* time, so you can start in any wave and still kick ass. The wave you pick is based on the 5K time you could run up a muddy hill, into a strong wind, carrying a wiggly puppy.

– Wave 1: sub 20 min 5K and top three *overall* contenders
– Wave 2: 20 to 24 min 5K
– Wave 3: 24 to 30 min 5K
– Wave 4: 30 to 35 min 5k
– Wave 5: >35 min 5K

The awards ceremony for all races (including the Kid’s 3k) and door prize competitions begin once all the podium finishes are confirmed, around 12:45 pm. Bring warm clothes, non-muddy shoes and a blanket to sit on and stick around for some pretty wicked giveaways from our sponsors – some are given away by luck of the draw and others capitalize on your many talents in the field of shoe throwing, hat tossing, planking, question answering and more.

RACE DAY CHANGES like race distance or the name on the bib are permitted and can be done up to 60 minutes before the race, for a small third-party fee of $5 (cold-hard-cash, exact change only). DO NOT run under someone else’s name – it messes up results, slows down the awards ceremony, gives me grey hairs and worry wrinkles and heart palpitations, and is a big-time safety concern.

TRAIL RUNNERS LIKE IT DIRTY, BUT KEEP IT CLEAN. Carry in, carry out. The range for aid station cups is 10m, otherwise you are carrying it to the finish line. If you don’t know how far 10m is, don’t drop your garbage. Litterbugs stink. Don’t be stinky.

SAFETY BEFORE SPEED. When it comes to trail running there are three rules: lead, follow, or get the heck out of the way. Pass only when it is safe to do so, give way to faster runners, and don’t follow too closely. If you want to pass, alert the person in front with an “on your left” and wait for them to find a safe spot to ease over. If someone wants to pass, let them – no blocking. The distance between you and the runner ahead of you is your body length; that way if you go down you don’t take them down with you. If you can feel someone’s breath on your neck they are too close. Importantly, if you need to walk, walk – just don’t stop abruptly causing a 12 person pile-up. Look back, slow down and ease to the right. Keep your kids safe and under adult supervision, because unattended children will be recruited to Buffy the Trail Slayer’s dance troupe where they will spend the season performing at races and expos. Hint: Leaving them in the pavilion to eat all the cookies at the food table while you go run does NOT count as leaving them attended. There will find medics at the aid stations, the finish line, and on the course. If you need help on the course, ask a passing runner to inform the next aid station/marshal.

Finally, don’t be caught on course with something on the BANNED list, like wheelie shoes, dogs, light sabers, or headphones. Seriously, no headphones! Let the sounds of your heavy breathing and the footsteps from behind push you along. Our hidden trail police will happily issue demerit points to violators. 5 minutes to your finish time per infraction and a lifetime ban from the prize table.

Happy trails,
The 5 Peaks team

Look at our Trail community coming together to support teenager Will Heine!

Last summer Will was super excited to run his first trail race, inspired by his mom's newfound love of trail running.  Just before the race was set to happen, Will was diagnosed with cancer, and spent the entire summer battling for his life.  At times, things looked very bleak, but Will kept a positive attitude and drive to get healthy.  Will is now in remission and set to run his first race this upcoming weekend!  Volunteers came to Solana and asked to have their credits go towards a 2016 Season's Pass for Will to be able to enjoy this summer, outside and on the trails with 5 Peaks!  Will posted this on our Vancouver region page, and we just had to share it.  


Will: "Hey 5 Peaks group! I just wanted to say that I am super excited to be running on Saturday. I'm turning 16 this month and this will be my first trail race. Last May I met 5 Peaks Ambassador Ward Beemer and he told me how great it was to run trails. I believed him and signed up for my first 5 Peaks event. I was all set to run Alice Lake last June but I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in May 2015. I was in BC Children's Hospital until October 2015 so not only did I miss then entire 5 Peaks season, I was in isolation for the best summer on record. Ward came to visit me many times and told me tales of his trail running adventures. Solana Klassen, the Vancouver Race Director, gave me cool buffs which helped me to look good on the oncology ward. I am now in remission and plan on spending as much time as I can outdoors. 5 Peaks has been totally awesome and given me a pass for the 2016 season. I will be running the sport course this Saturday at Alice Lake. I've still got a lot of nerve pain from a botched dialysis insertion so you won't see me on the podium. I may not be fast but I am so happy to be out on the trails. Hope to see you all out there on the trails! Feel free to say hi!"

Trail community coming together to support teenager Will Heine

Last summer Will was super excited to run his first trail race, inspired by his mom's newfound love of trail running.  Just before the race was set to happen, Will was diagnosed with cancer, and spent the entire summer battling for his life.  At times, things looked very bleak, but Will kept a positive attitude and drive to get healthy.  Will is now in remission and set to run his first race this upcoming weekend!  Volunteers came to Solana and asked to have their credits go towards a 2016 Season's Pass for Will to be able to enjoy this summer, outside and on the trails with 5 Peaks!  Will posted this on our Vancouver region page, and we just had to share it.  


Will: "Hey 5 Peaks group! I just wanted to say that I am super excited to be running on Saturday. I'm turning 16 this month and this will be my first trail race. Last May I met 5 Peaks Ambassador Ward Beemer and he told me how great it was to run trails. I believed him and signed up for my first 5 Peaks event. I was all set to run Alice Lake last June but I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in May 2015. I was in BC Children's Hospital until October 2015 so not only did I miss then entire 5 Peaks season, I was in isolation for the best summer on record. Ward came to visit me many times and told me tales of his trail running adventures. Solana Klassen, the Vancouver Race Director, gave me cool buffs which helped me to look good on the oncology ward. I am now in remission and plan on spending as much time as I can outdoors. 5 Peaks has been totally awesome and given me a pass for the 2016 season. I will be running the sport course this Saturday at Alice Lake. I've still got a lot of nerve pain from a botched dialysis insertion so you won't see me on the podium. I may not be fast but I am so happy to be out on the trails. Hope to see you all out there on the trails! Feel free to say hi!"

Runner spotlight: Ken Cox

Race Directors are a pretty lucky group. Sure there's a lot of behind the scenes blood, sweat and tears, but on race day we get to watch hundreds of people accomplish their trail running goals. There's truly nothing like it. In a series like 5 Peaks an amazing mix of runners join us on trails - from first time racers and first time trail runners, to seasoned trail veterans and ultra trail runners to trail running elite. They all come together in the same welcoming and supportive event. As Race Directors, we are privileged to hear first-hand the inspiring race day stories of people achieving a hard fought goal, leaving their comfort zone to try something new, cheering a child to the finish line of their first race, or overcoming incredible odds just to run. 

Ken's story is one that completely touched us, and as we read about his road to 5 Peaks we couldn't help but think, this is what trail running is all about. In one year Ken has quickly become amazing part of the 5 Peaks family - a talent runner yes, but also an incredibly positive force on the trails. He had a stellar season, qualifying for and running in the Canadian Mountain Running Championships and finishing the series as a 2015 Ontario series champion. That's all the more impressive when you hear his story, in his words. 

                  -Erin, Ontario Race director

 

Ken's story

My name is Ken Cox, I turned 60 last September and I live in the Caledon area.

10 years ago, a neighbor of mine introduced me to trail racing.  I immediately loved the experience and the incredible people that have the passion for trail racing.  They are so different than many road racers...there is a sense of community and strangers treat you like friends immediately!  When someone goes down others gather to help rather than run on!!   

Through the ten years I challenged myself with some goals and did well to achieve them including running an ultra marathon trail race in 2013 and finishing well, 6th in my age group.  That is where my story begins.   

Soon after completing the ultra in May of 2013, I began to experience pain in my rib area at the mid thorax level.  It was intermittent and my Doctor thought I was having a kidney stone issue and it would pass.  So, I ran another trail event (25k) in June and right after that the pain intensified to the point that I couldn't run without more pain.  My Doctors kept probing, scanning and testing over the next few months to try to find the source and cause of the intensifying pain.  Finally on October 2013 the pain got so bad that I could barely walk.  At the end of October, I had an MRI completed and within minutes after the MRI they admitted me to the hospital.  A group of Doctors were quite concerned about an infection on my spine that had impacted my disc at the T8 level. Tests uncovered it was a Staph A infection (not good!) and it had penetrated to the point of being next to my spinal column!   

Many questions arose as to how I ended up with this infection without a trauma injury.  Soon they had me on massive doses of antibiotics intravenously 24/7 for 8 weeks. I spent 8 days in the hospital as they checked how much damage the infection had done. Did it spread to other organs and had it impacted my nervous system?  They had a torso brace built for me so I could at least sit up and walk around home.

When the infection cleared enough I saw an Orthopedic Surgeon and it was then that we saw the extent of the damage - my disc was completely gone and the pain had been from the spine pinching on my nerve bundle at that spot.  The Surgeon along with the supporting Doctors were optimistic about my recovery due to my physical strength and health from the training and running over the years.   He noted that there was evidence that my spine had already begun to self-fuse to replace the missing disc.  He noted it would be 3 months of monitoring with regular visits to know how well the fusing would work or whether surgery might be needed.

As I mentioned the Doctors were optimistic due to my physical health, and in January 2014, my infectious disease specialist told me with big smiles that the 8 weeks of massive antibiotics treatment had worked and I had finished the treatment for the infection 3 months early!!  Then in February my Orthopedic Surgeon told me to start weaning myself off my brace as the fusion was moving along quickly and effectively.  I asked him about running again and he said let's wait for a few more months.

Then in July 2014, he told me I did not have to see him again, the fusion was a success!  He told me it would be a while before the fusion material hardened enough but, he thought I could run again and should listen carefully to my body.  He told me that I should never run the long distances again as a precaution.

So, by this time, I had started doing long walks to build up my strength again and in some way work on my cardio. I also worked with a strength coach and physiotherapist, helping me to build the supporting core for my spine and guiding me on specific non-pounding exercises.  I tried running short distances in August of 2014 but found that after a few runs the pain would return (mild discomfort) so I continued with my strength and cardio training without any pounding. I tried running once each month to test it and then near the end of December 2014 after a couple weeks of trying short distances, there was no more discomfort!  

I began to run once a week doing 1k intervals (that's as long as my cardio would allow without stopping to walk) on top of the other training until about February when I added a short run midweek.  I added a bit of distance to my intervals every couple of weeks and soon was running 5k again by mid-March without stopping.  My biggest challenge now was getting my cardio to improve so I could improve speed and endurance with a goal to get my one run each week up to between 8 and 10k.  By the end of March I did my first 10k run!  I had a lot of help from my friends through all this with visits to my home and with them offering to run the short distances with me when I started back.  They were incredible and again showed the spirit of the trail racing community!!

It was at this point that I decided to signed up for the Terra Cotta race. It had been my ultimate goal to recover from this set back and race once more but at shorter distances, respecting the advice of my surgeon.  I found that 5 Peaks offered that!!!

I went to the race in Terra Cotta with a couple running friends and the support and encouragement of the rest of my running friends I train with.  I had set the goal of running the Sport distance to finish and enjoy the experience once again. Let me say this, it exceeded my goals and expectations with a podium finish! I checked off that box - I made it back!

I know that the recovery has been good but, I also realize that, at my age, the recovery might not hold up that much longer.  So, I signed up for the Heart Lake event and plan to do the rest of the events this year.  My goal at Heart Lake was to run a better race than Terra Cotta where I went out too fast (felt like a rookie again) and run a more consistent race.   I had no idea it was a Regional Qualifier for the Canadian Mountain Running Championships and when I heard that at the pre-race talk, I thought, okay just run the race to accomplish improvement from Terra Cotta with no expectations on placing.   Even the fact that the course adjustment lengthened it to 8k put me at the limits of my training!  So, what a bonus yesterday to end up in 3rd in my age group!!!  

What I want to stress most is that with the incredible positive support of my wife, Carol, and then the additional support of my running friends along with a very strong and positive mental attitude, I accomplished something, I believe, that is beyond what I expected!  One of my friends said after yesterday's result, " You never gave up on running when it would have been the easiest thing to do."

I hope that this very condensed version of my 2 year experience comes across well.  There are so many inspiring stories that others have to offer, I thought this might be a small addition to the many others.

Erin, thanks to you and your colleagues at the 5 Peaks organization, I have been able to enjoy the trail running passion again with the entire community!!  It doesn't matter that I cannot do the long distances any more, it is all about the experience and the passion!

 

THANK YOU Ken - we are so touched by your story of recovery and thrilled that it has such a happy ending. It is a honour for 5 Peaks to have been a part of your return to the trails. 

Hodgepodge Is Not a Training Plan

You Need a Method to Your Madness
By Greg McMillan

I love the word "hodgepodge" and take great delight any time it's used in conversation--except when talking about a training plan. Far too often, I hear of runners who take a little from this plan, a bit from that plan, something from the training of a race winner and a workout from the fastest runner in town. They then throw these workouts together and call it a training plan. But "plan" isn't the best way to describe this method of organizing your training.

PURPOSE

I'm a firm believer that every workout you do should have a purpose. That purpose can be physiological (usually the case) and/or psychological (just as important as the physiological but sometimes unrelated) but for certain, it must help build you toward your goal fitness. We think this is so important, we've included a summary of each workout's purpose in our RunClub training plans as seen below.

Most workouts can be classified as one of four types: endurance, stamina, speed or sprint. Just ask yourself which of these four descriptors is challenged most during the workout you've selected. Additionally, workouts can have other purposes besides the four types. One instance is a predictor workout like Yasso 800s, which could be one or two of the four types but whose real purpose (to predict your marathon time) goes beyond these categories. In the end, it doesn't really matter what the purpose is. It's just important that you identify one before you plop the workout into your training program.

View of a 5 Peaks Run Club Custom Training Plan designed by McMillan Running Coaches

View of a 5 Peaks Run Club Custom Training Plan designed by McMillan Running Coaches

EFFECT

Once you identify the purpose of the workout you want to add to your training plan, you need to think about its effect. I mean that in two ways. First, how hard is that workout for you to complete? For some of us, running fast 400m repeats is challenging but fun, whereas for others, this workout leaves them trashed and defeated. Some runners find long runs relaxing and invigorating, whereas others find them a large mental and physical challenge. For each runner, the effect of the workout is different so it's important that you think about how you'll respond to it.

The second "effect" has to do with how long it takes you to recover from that workout, regardless of whether it's one of your favorites. In general, the workouts you're good at (ones that challenge your strengths) are ones that you recover from quickly, whereas the ones you aren't good at (ones that challenge your weaknesses) take a lot longer to recover from. Knowing the recovery time from different types of workouts is instructive when you decide where to put them in your program.

Workouts from which you recover quickly can be inserted closer together than a workout that requires extended recovery time. This may seem like a no-brainer but my experience has been that we're so fixated on our weekly rhythm (e.g., two workouts and a long run in every seven-day cycle, no matter what) that we force some workouts to fit.

I find that the length of time it takes you to recover from a workout is one of the most underappreciated parts of training. You must think about this when you're planning workouts. With some workout types, you might do two in a week, whereas the workout that takes you a long time to recover from might be the only workout in that week with several recovery days provided to make sure you absorb the workout. You need to be OK with letting your body, not your calendar, guide your training. 

Dashboard view of 5 Peaks Run Club platform accessible on most devices

Dashboard view of 5 Peaks Run Club platform accessible on most devices

PATH TO GOAL FITNESS

With the purpose and the effect identified for each workout, you then need to make sure the plan builds toward your goal fitness. Some workouts are just a lot of fun to do, and I encourage you to include these throughout your plan. At the same time, you need to consider the demands of your goal race as well as your strengths and weaknesses to make sure that the vast majority of workouts in your plan help you meet the demands of your target event.

For example, if you need a lot of endurance and stamina for your goal race, then your plan better have a hefty dose of those workouts in it. But if those workouts are your weaknesses and/or ones that take you a long time to recover from, then account for that in your plan. You may want to include more "quick recovery" workouts that you're good at in your plan than your training partner, who may respond differently to these same workouts. Again, the key is that you think about how the workouts affect you and use this knowledge in developing your plan.

A smart training plan and a hodgepodge plan both have variety. But a smart plan is also well thought out, and takes into consideration the purpose and effect of every workout so that you progress toward meeting your goals.

About the Author - Greg McMIllan

"Greg McMillan is one of the best and smartest distance running coaches in America." – Amby Burfoot, Runner's World

Greg McMillan is a runner, exercise scientist and coach with the unique ability to combine the science of endurance performance with the art of real-world coaching. Greg has a masters degree in Exercise Physiology where his research focused on the determining factors of distance running performance. A student of the sport since he began running in high school, he continues to apply advances in sports science to his training programs. 

Throughout his coaching career, Greg has been successful at helping a wide range of athletes. He has coached Olympians, Boston Marathon qualifiers as well as new runners through charity marathon groups. The bulk of his athletes are everyday runners balancing work, family and other commitments with their running.

Train with purpose using plans designed specifically for 5 Peaks Races by Greg McMillan and other McMillan Running Coaches.

Mastering Uphills and Downhills

One of the most common reasons runners don't perform as well as they'd like in a trail race or ultramarathon is that they lose their legs on demanding hill climbs and descents. The best trail runners are efficient at both climbing and descending. Here's how I help runners with their up and downhill running.

MASTERING UPHILLS

There are three basic types of uphill workouts I prescribe to runners while they prepare for a hilly trail race or ultramarathon: short hill repeats, long sustained hills and hills during a long run. These workouts are an easy way to build leg strength and core power safely. 

Because we don't all have access to optimal training grounds, we must work with what we've got. Obviously, the best options would include trails or roads with hills similar to those you would encounter in your upcoming race. Bridge overpasses, parking garages and treadmills will all do the trick in a pinch. Take the time to discover your best training venues. You might find that your local roads supply you with better hills than the trails.

Short Hill Repeats

Short hill repeats are the bread and butter of most training programs. They should be done throughout the base or building phase, and then revisited periodically as you progress towards race day. These repeats will help you with longer ascents.

Find a hill with a medium slope (six to 10 percent) that takes 45-90 seconds to ascend.  Run up at an effort equivalent to your mile race effort-this will ultimately equate to roughly 5K pace as you ascend the hill. Focus on good form with powerful push off and strong arm swing. Slowly jog down the hill to recover. Depending on your fitness level, do six to 15 repeats. If you find that you still lack significant uphill drive even after doing short hill repeats for a few months, then steep hill repeats might be the way to go. They aren't as long (only 15-30 seconds), but the hill is much steeper. These really develop power in the legs.

Long Sustained Hills

To run a sustained hill workout, find a trail or road that ascends for several miles and ideally gains between 500-1,000 feet per mile. Cover a total of four to 12 miles of uphill running miles, steadily increasing your intensity as you approach the end of the session.  Depending on the length of the climb, try to sustain half marathon to marathon pace effort. If you need to repeat the same hill several times, then do so. Recover as you jog back to the bottom. This is a challenging workout and will likely leave you heavily fatigued. Repeat it several times during a season and track your fitness progression.

 Hill Work During a Long Run

Choose a rolling route for your long run. Run at an easy, relaxed pace (one to two minutes slower than marathon pace) during this workout, but at each hill, regardless of the size, surge at 5K to half marathon pace to the top. Recover on the downhill and flats. Regulate your pace and effort depending on the length and slope of each climb.

MASTERING DOWNHILLS

We all love the downhills on race day or otherwise. We can move quickly with little effort and catch our breath while doing so. If you're good at them, you can use the downhills to your advantage and catch the runner in front of you. To the unprepared runner, however, too many long, steep descents can be demoralizing, essentially ending the race and making it difficult to walk afterwards. Running downhill is an activity that is nearly impossible to mimic. There are no machines at the gym, no stretches or medical tools that can properly prepare your legs for the rigors of a long trail descent. Unless you've programmed some regular downhill running sessions into your training schedule, come race day, you could find yourself relegated to a walk with burnt quads.

It is important to start gradually with short downhill repeats. Over zealously training your downhill muscles or racing aggressively without proper preparation will prohibit you from being able to train comfortably for a week or more and, possibly, cause injury. Use these workouts below to gain confidence in your downhill ability, improve your sense of balance and develop leg turnover.

Short Downhill Repeats 

Find a hill with a medium slope (6 percent to 10 percent) that takes a minute or two to descend. It is best to start on softer surfaces, such as smooth trail, grass or a dirt road. Stay away from rocky, technical trails for this workout. Descend at a comfortable, controlled pace, keeping your feet underneath you and allowing your glutes and quads to absorb the impact, not your knees. Keep your "brakes" off in order to keep the jarring to a minimum. Like the uphill repeats, do six to 15 downhill repeats, depending on your fitness level. Jog slowly or walk back to the top for recovery.

You want to start each downhill repeat feeling fairly rested. Your goal is to work on technique; this is not a cardiovascular workout. Building gradually to a cumulative total of 20 minutes of downhill running at this grade will prepare your body to withstand more advanced descents. Due to the potentially damaging aspects of this workout, allow plenty of recovery between sessions. Do these repeats every seven to 10 days.

Although there is no substitute for real descent repeats, eccentric single-leg squats and lunges may also prepare the muscles for downhill running. These are sometimes referred to as "negatives." The goal is to resist the weight in the exercise. For example, when performing a single-legged squat, focus on very slowly lowering into the squat position by taking five to seven seconds to do so.

Long Downhill Descents 

Once your legs are prepared for the shorter descents, it's time to put that fitness to work.  Long downhill descents can last anywhere from a quarter-mile to six miles. Short downhill repeats are no longer necessary due to the length of these longer descents. To avoid significant muscle soreness and to successfully build on your developing downhill leg strength, schedule a long downhill running session at least every 10 to 14 days during peak training. Muscle memory for this kind of work begins to disappear after two weeks.

To save time, you can and should incorporate these two descending hill workouts into your weekly long runs. It is, however, very important that you plan your training and subsequent recovery appropriately based on your fitness level.

About Ian & McMillan Running

Coach Ian Torrence is one of the most respected ultra/trail coaches in the world. He's run nearly 200 ultras (winning over 25% of them) and is a TransRockies Champion. He has the unique ability to help new ultra & trail runners as well as athletes winning National and World Championships.

McMillan Running helps runners get to the starting line healthy and to the finish line faster. The expert coaching staff works with new runners, experienced runners and even Olympians.

To train like the pros join the 5 Peaks Run Club with hundreds of training plans to choose from designed by McMIllan Running coaches specifically for 5 Peaks events and many other common race distances from 1 mile to 100 miles.  Regardless of the race distance or surface, we've got you covered in the 5 Peaks Run Club! 

To work one-on-one with a McMillan Running coach like Ian, please visit the 5 Peaks Coaching page and sign up for personal coaching.  

It's All About the Base

Base building isn’t sexy.  Some find it downright boring. However, those who build their base before beginning race specific training end up healthier and performing better when it counts.

Here are some tried and true ways to build your base:

  • Gradually increase total weekly volume
  • Gradually increase long run length
  • Gradually introduce intensity
  • Begin strength training now

Weekly Volume

Focus on gradually increasing volume (time and distance) as the year progresses.  Limit weekly increases to 10 percent.  If you want to add more do it through cross training.

Long Run Length

During the base phase, the long run should take priority and should make up 20 to 25 percent of the total weekly volume. 

                        Gradually building volume & intensity through sound training principles

                        Gradually building volume & intensity through sound training principles

Gradually Increase Intensity

Before you begin structured speed workouts, prime your legs, lungs, and mind by sprinkling in intensity through progression runs, strides, fartleks, and hills:

Progression Runs

Progression runs start easy and get gradually faster so that you are running harder toward the end of the run.  Make one run per week a progression run and gradually increase the duration of the hard effort. 

Strides

Strides are short bursts of speed between 15 and 40 seconds in the middle or end of an easy or long run that prime your body for future intense efforts.  Strides provide time to focus on efficient running form under duress.  After a couple of weeks of easy running, add 3-4 x 20 to 30 second strides after one easy run per week.  Gradually add more repetitions and another day of strides.

Fartleks

Fartleks are longer than strides, lasting between 1 and 8 minutes, and are an effective way of introducing intensity before obsessing about pace.  After a few weeks of easy running with one progression run and one stride run per week add a fartlek workout: Easy run warm up for 15 to 30 minutes + 5 x (1 minute at 5K effort + 1 minute easy running) + 15 to 30 minute easy run cool down. Mix things up by modifying the number, duration, and intensity of the intervals. 

Hills

Run easy on undulating terrain two to three times per week.  After a few weeks, begin surging up and down the hills.  After you get comfortable running easy on hills you can add hill repeats. This will increase muscular strength and improve form and posture which will ultimately help you run more efficiently on all surfaces.

Strength Training

Muscular strength takes time to develop.  To prepare for the demands of race specific running, strength training should begin well before introducing formal speed training. Begin with core and body weight routines two to four times per week.  Add resistance as needed.

Limit Race Specific Training & Racing

To ensure that you are at peak fitness on race day, strategically build your base until you are six to eight weeks away from your goal race. If you plan to do multiple races in a season, use the first few races as workouts.

About Coach Jacob & McMillan Running

                            Coach Jacob Puzey crossing the bridge at the Canmore Nordic Centre

                            Coach Jacob Puzey crossing the bridge at the Canmore Nordic Centre

Coach Jacob Puzey is a professional runner, coach, and 5 Peaks ambassador.  He’s an internationally certified coach expert at helping runners tackle trail, track, road, and ultra events..

McMillan Running helps runners get to the starting line healthy and to the finish line faster. The expert coaching staff works with new runners, experienced runners, and even Olympians.

If you are interested in working with Jacob and other McMillan Running coaches as you prepare for an upcoming race check out 5 Peaks Run Club and the 5 Peaks Personal Coaching pages.

Altra becomes the Official Shoe of the 5 Peaks Trail Running Series in Canada.

Altra Zero Drop has signed a 3 year sponsorship deal with 5 Peaks heading into the 2015 season. “With Altra’s strong roots in trail running, the 5 Peak Trail Running Series was a natural fit for us. Altra’s focus on its Zero DropTM, fully cushioned platform and foot-shaped toe box has garnered significant attention since we launched in Canada in 2013 and we see this sponsorship as a key step in getting the word out to more of the trail community,” said Chris Jones, President of Entrix Sports, the Canadian distributor for Altra.

The sponsorship will include hundreds of shoes for prizing, long sleeve t-shirts for season ticket holders and demo fleets at many races, so the athletes can get a feel for the comfortable shoe brand first-hand, or ‘first-foot!’ Many happy feet are ahead of us due to this deal!

For more information on Altra’s incredible lineup, check out their site!

Welcome Altra!

What’s up with the Suunto Ambit 2R?

Suunto has had success with their popular Ambit watch and followed it up with a second generation series with 3 different models.  The Ambit 2R is designed for athletes that want GPS functionality but don’t need all of the (many) features of the 2 or the 2S, and want a lower price to go with it.

After using the first generation Ambit, and all 3 of the 2nd series units, I can say that the 2R technically works as well as the other watches – it is usually quick to pick up satellites and external ant+ sensors.  The user interface is identical to that of the other Ambit watches which made it easy to learn for existing users, but is intuitive for new users once you understand what all of the buttons do.

In terms of features, the Ambit 2R has the basic stuff that you will need as an athlete.  You can connect it to a heartrate strap to monitor your effort, and a footpod if you want to know your stride cadence.  Of course the GPS will tell you what you pace/speed is, and everything is recorded so you can download it to see where you went, and how you performed.  You can have up to 10 sport modes with 8 data displays (each with multiple data fields) on the watch at a time.  This is all customizable using the Movescount/Moveslink software.

The 2R has a shorter battery life than the 2 or the 2S, but still claims 8hrs at the most precise GPS tracking level (recording once per second), up to 25 hrs at the least precise (recording once per minute.)  For many runners, cyclists and swimmers, 8 hours is plenty long enough! If it isn’t, and you want precise data, you may want to consider the 2S or the 2.  I haven’t tested the actual life on mine, but Suunto is generally accurate on their claims.

Suunto uses their own Movescount application for uploading and storage of user data, and has recently been better integrated into the popular Strava platform.  Both of these offer social connectivity with other users, and Strava allows you to connect with friends and athletes regardless of the type of GPS they are using.

The whole Suunto Ambit lineup is great, and if you want a solid watch but don’t need all the features of the 2 or 2S, you can save some cash with the 2R and have a great GPS heart rate monitor.

By Ontario Ambassador Kent Keeler – runbikerace.com

Running Safe with Bears

A great way to avoid negative encounters with wildlife while you’re training, or racing, in the outdoors is to remove your ear buds. Two runners in Alaska recently suffered “defensive bear attacks” because they were running with earbuds and not fully aware of their surroundings (story here).  When you wear ear buds, you are less aware of your surroundings and might not hear nearby wildlife that may be warning you of their presence. It is safer for runners and wildlife to not wear ear buds.

In addition to not wearing ear buds, wildlife officials and WildSmart strongly suggest you carry bear spray and know how to use it, as well as shout regularly to let wildlife know where you are; it will prevent them from being surprised and give them a chance to move elsewhere. Let the training begin!

Find out more about running safe in bear country at www.wildsmart.ca or call us at 403.678.3445 ext. 2

What is the most effective form of defensive against a feisty bear?  Bear Spray!  Read more about it here.

5 Peaks Hosts Successful National Mountain Running Championships

Monday, June 30 2014 – Gerth and Setlack win national titles This past Saturday in Golden, BC, Sjaan Gerth and Emily Setlack were crowned the 2014 Canadian Mountain Running Champions.

Although poor weather was forecast, it ended up being the course that was the true challenge in this contest between mountain and runner. With over 1000m of elevation gain and an unrelenting 10% grade up Kicking Horse Ski resort, this race was not for the faint of heart.

In the women’s 8km race, Emily Setlack pulled away from the field early and never relinquished her lead. She was chased up the mountain by Nadine Mueller and Chessa Adsit-Morris who battled throughout the race, with Nadine ultimately capturing second position. New mother Lauren King showed her strength by finishing fourth in her first mountain race on this continent and Catrin Jones finished in fifth after only recently returning from injury.

… read the rest of the story here…

5 Peaks Adventures Launches Kids Run Canada

Adding to its trail running races by including 3km, timed races for youth in all regional 2014 summer events.

Start-up funding for Kids Run Canada has been generously provided by Dr. Grant Bartlett, Calgary businessman and supporter of health and wellness. Dr. Bartlett ‘ran’ at the opportunity to help. “I was asked to support a program to get more kids running in the forest. My young grandchildren, and so many others, can participate and grow from this opportunity so my response was a wholehearted ‘yes’.”

Many of Canada’s best trail runners were introduced to the sport through the 5 Peaks series; incepted in Vancouver in 1998, and now hosting 12,000 racers annually, in five Canadian provinces. Getting off the road and on to the trails provides a venue for runners to experience nature, interact with fellow athletes, and become part of a community while enjoying health benefits.

Kids Run Canada participants will be introduced to these same benefits and values, laying the foundation for a lifelong active lifestyle. Kids Run Canada will enable youth to explore sport within a warm and welcoming community while removing many traditional barriers to participation.

5 Peaks CEO, Amy Golumbia, had this to say: “Running and playing in the forest are natural for kids. With the introduction of Kids Run Canada, whole families can run and have fun in Canada’s great natural places while interacting with other trail enthusiasts.”

5 Peaks works in concert with Tree Canada and 60 Minutes Kids Club to get Canadians outdoors. Kids Run Canada is an expression of that shared goal.

For more information on Kids Run Canada, regional race times and locations, go to Kids Run Canada at www.kidsrun.ca.